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Critical switch

Hunger mechanics are too simple

18 posts in this topic

I've come to the game after a long while and played bit. I'll skip unnecessary details, this concerns primarily Surival mode (personally playing on Stalker). 

The current hunger mechanics are cheapening the game. I think that the strategy of eating the bare minimum to recover health while sleeping, to be able to read books etc. is well known. The problem is that this strategy is perfectly viable and without an actual incentive to eat more often, the whole food mechanic feels cheap and kinda pointless (as in, I don't even want to worry about it because I don't feel that caring about it improves my experience). The biggest problem is that after you deplete all calories, you cannot go into a deficit of any kind. That means that if you eat three days later and get some sleep, you're just as well as you were before. So in a way, maintaining your food bar full is a waste of calories in the current system. 

What the game needs is a more complex (not necessarily realistic) approach to food. Following example is a system that I came up with in about 30 minutes (not much thought given to it): The player would get three stats from food: Calories, fat reserve and sugar reserve. This would NOT simulate real life (pointless to even try), I'll explain how a system like this could be turned into an engaging gameplay mechanic.

Calories being the energy player has readily available from food, fat and sugar being the energy player has stored. Some food low on calories rich on fat/sugar, some rich on calories but low fat/sugar, some well balanced (most desirable). 

You eat something, you immediately get calories which you can use for activities together with fat and sugar. There could be a whole lot of mechanics that affect when does the player burn what, but generally you burn less fat than calories (as in, calories are primary). Depleting calories would not be a big deal in terms of long term survival (realistically, athletes fast for days while being physically active), some penalties that increase with time. No degradation of health until maybe after several days. If calories depleted, player can burn only fat and sugar (again, this is way more complex in real life, I'm not trying to recreate it). Some activities may take longer because of this. Calories would stay calories for a certain amount time, after which they would be converted to fat and sugar if unused. This is the main thing that would drive player to eat frequently. 

Fat burned together with calories (again, could be a whole system behind the ratios), depleting fat = death (same as real life), critically low amounts of fat = big penalties to physical traits and some afflictions, low amounts of fat = lower resistance to cold, affliction risks, could as well be tied to mental health if implemented. Fat from food would take certain amount of time to get stored (unless burned with calories). 

Use of sugar depending on activity (for example, walking would use almost none while running would use a lot). Depletion of sugar = huge penalties to physical traits (kinda like depletion of glycogen reserves in real life). Sugar replenishes quickly, but can be burned quickly as well, so desirable to maintain sufficient reserve.

Even though it would still be possible to starve for days (which it definitely should), it could affect long term survival because player would need to make sure enough calories get converted to fat and that would only be happening after a certain amount of time after eating and not using up all available calories. The point of a system like this would be to give the player an incentive to not only maintain a steady income of food, but to also make certain foods more desirable than others. Some food could give sufficient amount of calories for daily routines, but there would be a cap to how much fat and sugar can be gained from it. Or it could give less calories but be converted to fat and sugar sooner. Both useful in different situations. 
Some could point out that there obviously needs to be an overweight mechanism, but I think that instead, there could be a point of diminishing returns, where calories would no longer convert to fat 1:1 (so that players have no incentive to overeat) and those diminishing returns would increase with time. So while there wouldn't be a hard cap on the amount of fat player can store, storing infinite amounts of fat would not be a viable strategy.  



OR ALTERNATIVELY if you want to do the bare minimum with similar effect, modify the system so that player goes into calorie deficit after he depletes all calories, and after the deficit is too high, player dies. 

Edited by Critical switch
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I honestly think this would just be way too confusing, I don't know any game actually that does all this. Most games that your character needs to eat just has a simple hunger meter, they don't do the whole sugar / calorie thing. 

Also calories, sugar, and fats isn't the only thing that make up foods, there's also carbs, proteins, vitamins, salts, etc etc. So yea it's really too complicated to get into all of that.

the fact that the game even does calories is good enough for me, again the rest is too involved for me.  

Sorry it's a no from me. 

Edited by kristaok
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Too complicated, but just having a long term calorie store could work. You can do short term starvation, but doing too much eats into reserves. But if you stay feed long enough you can increase your stores again

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I thought about this before in a separate post, I think in the wish list forum.

But basically, in reality, you kill an animal you get its marrow, brains, blood, the organs, and for herbivores the contents of their stomachs (yes). All of that gives proteins and fats and carbos and vitamins (esp if you don't overcook the organs and meat). There's fish too which have fats. Obviously taking care of your nutrients is vital but we can't really track that without doing blood work.  In the long run of the game, there won't be anything to eat except for animals and fish. And then, just fish, if we're talking realistically (and even the fish wouldn't last forever). But even if animals are an endless source of food, even if you don't run out of ways to procure them (in reality you could fashion weapons out of bone), even a lean animal (and they would absolutely be lean in a perma-winter state) would give you most nutrients you need to live for a pretty long time so long as you exploit all you can from the animal, which negates any need to track nutrient balance within the body, which, again, isn't possible to do without blood tests and, maybe, "oy, I feel a bit anemic today..."

In this sort of survival situation being overweight in the long run pretty much won't be an issue, and there are too many other variables anyway with height and sex and genetics etc-to-infinity. 

I do get what you mean about calorie depletion. If you let your thirst or hunger go "full red" all the time your health status will remain under 100%, though sleeping does heal you a bit, depending on game settings. While you are right that there could be a "negative calorie" indicator of some kind, again, there's no way to actually track such a thing without some sort of technology or guesswork based on how big a hunk of meat you ate. 

Honestly, if anything's to change in the food system, like I mentioned in my wish list I'd add "harvest bone marrow" to the game and you'd get 4 units per mammal, and if you don't eat at least 1 unit once in a while along with your meat, you end up suffering from Rabbit Starvation which would then do something to your health along the lines of calorie deficits but rather for nutrients, would affect stamina and speed etc etc. IMO this is about as accurate as you could get in a game like this.

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Thinking about it, three stats could be confusing, but having two might be fine. Yes, other games do hunger, but the penalties for starving are usually just complementing the gameplay (for example forcing you to go hunting) and are way too harsh to make sense in TLD, where getting edible food is more difficult than in most other games. The way I see it, TLD is a simplified reflection of real life problems in survival situations. The amount of time you can go without food in real life is actually very long, much longer than the game could possibly reflect, but at the same time, in real life you definitely want to eat regularly if you're in a survival situation.

You cannot make a realistic diet mechanics in a game, that would be more complex than the entirety of the current game. Again, the main point isn't just to add on complexity, but to give an incentive to eat, hunt, cook, look for other sources of food, and maintain constant intake of food. 

The way you could think of it, calories are a currency that allow you to do stuff. If you have no calories, you can still do all that stuff and you're doing it for free. It's like going to the store and getting whatever you put in your cart for free because you forgot your wallet. Man, I would definitely forget my wallet every time. Basically, it works the same in the game. Why would I eat in the morning and waste calories from food, when I can just keep them in my inventory and do everything for free? Instead of spending time getting food, I can focus on gear and exploration. 
1% of health every hour is a very low penalty (but increasing the penalty alone would not make sense/would not reflect real life). You just eat a little before you sleep, regain lost health, and all is well. This also makes the risk of parasites affliction a non-issue because by the time you're in need of eating, the affliction is healed. 

Edited by Critical switch

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Well, your OP proposal is quite horrible - but that being said you are of course right with your reasoning for it. It's not like this particular issues hasn't haunted the game for quite some time. In fact just the recent update went some lengths to give incentive to stay well fed by granting the "Well Fed" buff if starvation is avoided for 72+ hours. But even then I don't think the drawbacks of starvation outweigh its advantages in situations where hibernation is required. Thinking of my TWM Snowballs I wouldn't or couldn't do anything differently if I planned to achieve the same success. Once food gets scarce you will want to hibernate, 5kg carry buff or not.

I guess to really get rid of hibernation gameplay the condition loss suffered has to outweigh the condition gained by sleep. @BareSkin's Sleepwalker Mode and Deadman (to a much harsher extend) have proven as much. But that's a punitive path the devs want to avoid for good reasons. Making the game more punishing wouldn't sit well with probably the majority of the non-challenge-oriented player base, and in general it's better to reward someone for doing something right rather than punishing them for doing something wrong. But, to be brutally honest: I don't see how it can be done otherwise. Maybe prohibiting all activities that require calories (as with reading) and making the player walk increasingly slower. But all of this includes punishing the player for failing to comply.

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1 hour ago, jeffpeng said:

making the player walk increasingly slower

Have the player experience a dizzy spell.  Use the 'going red' below 10% health vision blur and wobble walking, with a short duration. 

The player would need to stop moving, consume food that is simple sugar type (pop or energy bar and not fibrous cattail stalks) or risk that the dizzy spell might last longer.  While starving the dizzy spell last only a few minutes but become more frequent as days pass.  Some sort of warning before the dizzy spell event occurs that could be vocal of headache or just the vision effects then followed by the full dizzy spell.

I considered the idea of having the player just drop to the ground but after witnessing that in another title the idea became unappealing for the Long Dark.  The Wobble Walking has been refined over the last few revision and has improved and I would not mind seeing more of this mechanism at play.  The effects of Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are similar and headache, clumsiness and dizziness are symptoms.

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1 hour ago, BareSkin said:

Easy Recipe:

1. Set the setting "At rest recovery Rest" to "None"

2. Enjoy.

I think "Enjoy" might be pushing it! But it does solve the problem of viable starvation.

I normally put it the other way around, though: "Condition Recovery" = None; "At Rest Recovery" = Low. And then I crank the "Thirst Rate" up to maximum so that you can't ever sleep for more than 7 hours at a time. That generally means you get about as much back per night as you'd lose from starving all day; and if you've been freezing at all at the same time, you go into deficit. You can still use Herbal Tea to boost the regain, but that's in limited supply so I count it as ok - it makes tea into a really valuable resource, actually.

Edited by Pillock

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Nice idea, but by just reading this I'd think it still makes it valuable being starved all day, for all those 0-calories activities. But since I've never played this way it's pure fiction to me.

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On 29. 12. 2018 at 7:37 PM, Ice Hole said:

Have the player experience a dizzy spell.  Use the 'going red' below 10% health vision blur and wobble walking, with a short duration. 

The player would need to stop moving, consume food that is simple sugar type (pop or energy bar and not fibrous cattail stalks) or risk that the dizzy spell might last longer.  While starving the dizzy spell last only a few minutes but become more frequent as days pass.  Some sort of warning before the dizzy spell event occurs that could be vocal of headache or just the vision effects then followed by the full dizzy spell.

I considered the idea of having the player just drop to the ground but after witnessing that in another title the idea became unappealing for the Long Dark.  The Wobble Walking has been refined over the last few revision and has improved and I would not mind seeing more of this mechanism at play.  The effects of Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are similar and headache, clumsiness and dizziness are symptoms.

The problem is that under normal circumstances, you'll eat at least once a day, so you'd still get no effects of long-term starvation. 

On 30. 12. 2018 at 1:39 AM, Pillock said:

I think "Enjoy" might be pushing it! But it does solve the problem of viable starvation.

I normally put it the other way around, though: "Condition Recovery" = None; "At Rest Recovery" = Low. And then I crank the "Thirst Rate" up to maximum so that you can't ever sleep for more than 7 hours at a time. That generally means you get about as much back per night as you'd lose from starving all day; and if you've been freezing at all at the same time, you go into deficit. You can still use Herbal Tea to boost the regain, but that's in limited supply so I count it as ok - it makes tea into a really valuable resource, actually.

Hydration can be tedious enough as is, especially when you're at base crafting/researching and cooking. It's easy to lose track of it because of how quickly does in-game time progress. And nothing is stopping you from sleeping in segments (sleep 5 hours, drink, sleep another 5 hours). 

Also regarding food - it's funny how when you get parasites, you can eat wolf and bear meat as much as you please, it will not worsen your condition. Perfect excuse to just sit back and consume the stockpiles of wolves that keep throwing themselves at me :D 

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7 minutes ago, Critical switch said:

Hydration can be tedious enough as is, especially when you're at base crafting/researching and cooking. It's easy to lose track of it because of how quickly does in-game time progress. And nothing is stopping you from sleeping in segments (sleep 5 hours, drink, sleep another 5 hours). 

I prefer not to impose artificial constraints on myself while I'm playing. I set the variables before I start, otherwise I know I won't stick to them! (but if 5 +5 hours sleep gains you more condition regain than 7+3, I hadn't realised that!) 

Having to drink regularly with Thirst Rate set to "High" isn't so much of a chore one you get used to it. 

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7 hours ago, Critical switch said:

problem is that under normal circumstances, you'll eat at least once a day, so you'd still get no effects of long-term starvation

Playing on interloper starvation happens.

Sometimes a few days can go by without calories.  There are some players who use this just to take advantage of the location, such as the forge in DP.  The idea is forge to you cannot see straight. Then eat a good meal, sip some tea, deep sleep, load up and bug out.  In this circumstance standing while forging the dizzy spell might not have any impact, unless a dizzy spell occurs followed by an injury and/or the forging is interupted.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Pillock said:

I prefer not to impose artificial constraints on myself while I'm playing. I set the variables before I start, otherwise I know I won't stick to them! (but if 5 +5 hours sleep gains you more condition regain than 7+3, I hadn't realised that!) 

Having to drink regularly with Thirst Rate set to "High" isn't so much of a chore one you get used to it. 

I just gave an example, although looking at it now, sleeping in longer segments helps. I sometimes forget to drink before sleep, especially in situations where I drank about half a minute ago in real time, so I favour sleeping in short segments. 
Oh and also, there are ways of increasing tiredness relatively fast, so you can sneak in extra hours of sleep. 

Edited by Critical switch

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I think Hinterland is going in the right direction with the "Well Fed" buff tying carrying capacity to Hunger.  Unfortunately, 5 kg isn't significant in the end game, and when 5 kg does matter, calories are too valuable to spend on this.

I wouldn't mind seeing carrying capacity tied directly to Hunger in addition to Rest.  As soon as you enter Starvation, begin dropping carrying capacity.

However, if Hinterland wants to make eating regularly a thing, they need to make more calories a thing.  Currently, it is very difficult in the early-mid game to obtain calories.

IRL, a Canadian Mule Deer easily weighs 100 kg.  Deer typically yield at least 50% of their live weight in meat, so the deer we kill in game should be yielding 50+ kg.  By that math, we're missing out on 32 THOUSAND CALORIES from every deer kill!

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2 minutes ago, Maehlice said:

Hinterland is going in the right direction with the "Well Fed" buff tying carrying capacity to Hunger.  Unfortunately, 5 kg isn't significant in the end game, and when 5 kg does matter, calories are too valuable to spend on this.

There is also a hit point buff as well.  So if you are travelling when freezing or into dangerous areas this health is a little helpful.  This is the only way to offset frostbite too.

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In survival, means life threatening situation (that TLD scenario) you really dont solve bullsh*t about sugars and fat. You are hungry all the time so you basically eat everything you find. So, present system is enough, however it can be more complex in way what affect your hungry, like cold weather, or physical activity.

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